Conservators of the Peace

Message from the President

Brian Wolfe, OSSA President & Malheur County Sheriff

July, 2016 — Over the last few years, we have observed that community trust in law enforcement is strained. This strain has come about for many reasons; some are just and many are unjust. Often social media, YouTube, television, etc., delivers a false sense of what the actual law enforcement functions are.

The real question is, how do we correct the community mistrust of law enforcement? We have observed positive results where law enforcement has exercised community policing programs within their agencies. The question is, do we truly need community policing programs or is there a way for us to train deputies, troopers, and officers to interact and talk with community members in a way that mistrust can be dispelled and respect is gained by both sides?

What we need is a twofold approach which will produce positive results and healthy communities. First, law enforcement has to do a better job of communicating with the public in an attempt to explain the reasoning behind the action taken. The second is best accomplished by citizens who are willing to be fully informed about their local law enforcement agencies’ policies and practices, and who know their local public safety personnel. This can be done by citizens volunteering with local law enforcement agencies through programs such as citizen patrol, local citizen advisory boards, citizen academies, etc.

Law enforcement must understand that most people only have contact with them when they call for service or when they are subject to a traffic stop.

The main focus or goal of law enforcement is community safety. I can assure you that the thirty-six sheriffs in Oregon recognize that the foundation of effective law enforcement is a community that has full trust in the men and women who are charged with serving their communities. Each Oregon sheriff is continually looking for ways to improve their policies and procedures to build trust between the respective sheriff’s offices and the counties they serve.

I encourage citizens who may be experiencing mistrust with your sheriff’s office to meet with your sheriff to discuss your concerns.

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Message from the OSSA President

washington-pat-garrettAs the newly elected president, I am honored to represent all 36 Oregon sheriffs.

The sheriff has historically been the chief executive officer of the county, and this is still true under Oregon law. Elected by you and answering directly to the voters, your sheriff can be an effective voice of the people in the serious work of protecting the community. OSSA enables us to work together to serve you best.

By way of introduction, I am in my second term as the Washington County Sheriff, where deputies serve over a half million residents across 727 square miles of rural areas, urban communities, and cities. Our deputies also operate the only county jail. While Oregon counties are diverse in terms of climate, population, and economic drivers, your sheriffs work together to solve problems and challenges that we have in common.

The sheriffs of America have always played a significant role in the history of our nation; in fact, the office of Sheriff was the first county office established in the United States. Also, the first person to read the Declaration of Independence publicly was Philadelphia Sheriff John Nixon in Pennsylvania in 1776.

I look forward to working together to strengthen the office of Sheriff and the communities we proudly serve. Thank you for your continued support of the men and women on shift every day to keep our diverse and proud communities safe.


Pat Garrett
President and Washington County Sheriff.

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